With the Christmas season upon us our schedules become filled with programs, family events, parties, and wonderful outings. And in the “spare time” in between there’s baking, shopping, wrapping and decorating. While Christmas is a magical time and there is so much to enjoy, it can be a very stressful season for some of us. Unfortunately, the demands we put on ourselves can take away from the heart of the season. We forget what it’s all about. We put so much pressure on ourselves that we miss enjoying this beautiful time.
Fortunately, with a few small changes, the season can become enjoyable again. It doesn’t take much to ditch the chaos, it just takes some letting go and mindset shifts.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO SAY “NO”
There are SO many demands during Christmas and often times you may feel obligated to say “yes” to everything you’re invited to. It’s easy to let guilt take over and make our decision for us. By changing your mindset and remembering to put your needs and your family’s needs first, it will become easier to say no to things that may be more stressful than joyful. If going to your second cousin’s holiday party is a stress-filled event, it’s okay to kindly explain that you won’t be able to attend. If staying at home on Friday night and watching Christmas movies with your kids brings your family more happiness and joy, then go for it. Remember, it’s okay to say “no.”
DON’T SKIMP ON YOUR HEALTHY HABITS
Oh the cookies, the holiday drinks, the Christmas foods. Some of these Christmas traditions can be completely out of the norm for us. Which is a welcomed change sometimes. But don’t completely give up on your healthy habits. WIth the added stress, the sugary foods and the holiday gatherings, you can easily become run down. A run down body is a body that’s more susceptible to germs, viruses and bacteria it comes into contact with. By keeping up on healthy habits like a healthy diet, exercise, plenty of sleep and stress management, you’ll be able to stay healthy this Christmas season. While this doesn’t mean eating a whole plate of Christmas cookies, it also doesn’t mean missing out on your favorite holiday treat either. Remember everything in moderation. If you’re eating healthy, don’t worry about indulging here or there. Enjoy the season, but don’t completely throw caution to the wind either.
ASK, “WILL IT BRING ME JOY?”
With so many Christmas traditions, it can become overwhelming and stressful to fit them all in. There’s the cookie baking, the pictures, the Christmas cards, the parades, Santa visits…...the list goes on and on. We try to create an extra special season and a memorable Christmas, but in the process we stress ourselves and our families out. In each and every thing you want to do, ask yourself, “will this bring me more joy than it will stress?” If the answer is yes, then go full steam ahead. But if you feel your tradition will bring more stress than happiness, maybe it’s time to reevaluate. Skipping one year of Christmas cards isn’t going to put you on the naughty list. Christmas isn’t just about going through the motions of a tradition. Make sure you are truly enjoying the time with your friends and family.
CARVE OUT “YOU TIME”
We all know that time in the month of December can be a precious commodity; more than any other month. With all of the hectic schedules and extra tasks, it’s important to make sure there’s time for you and time to take care of yourself. While I don’t recommend giving up sleep, especially during Christmas, sometimes it’s easiest to catch your “you time” first thing in the morning. Have a quiet moment before your day begins. Read a devotion, have your coffee in peace, take a moment to mentally prepare for your day. It’s important to make sure you have time for what makes you happy in the midst of Christmas preparations. If you don’t take care of yourself, it makes it more difficult to take care of the ones you love.
Christmas time has SO many opportunities for us to give to those around us. There are chances to volunteer at church, shelters and schools. There are gifts to buy for those in need. And there are ways to give time to those who are lonely this time of year. Whether you choose to give money, time, gifts or food, there is always a way to help. A helping hand is just what makes the true meaning of Christmas shine through the stress, the traditions and the demands of the season. While giving your time, money or other gifts and talents can bring you great joy, it isn’t something you should feel obligated to do either.
If you’re looking towards the Christmas season with dread of stress, obligations and downright chaos, think about what will truly bring you and your family joy. It may be that low key and nights in are the perfect way to celebrate with your family. It may be leaving messes until morning or ordering take out for dinner. Whatever you and your family chooses to do to celebrate the Christmas season together, I hope you fully enjoy it.
Fall is a great time to add a couple new pieces to your workout gear. These warm weather beauties are FANTASTIC to pair with your existing fall wardrobe. They can neatly go from workout to every day life in a snap.
1. Protein Mixes
Protein shakes are one of the easiest ways to get a quick boost of protein first thing in the morning. It's also one of the best on-the-go breakfasts. The great thing is you can add protein powder to ANYTHING. Have you tried it in your coffee? It's AMAZING. Some of my favorite brands of protein powder are:
Eat them scrambled, hard-boiled, over easy....you pick. If you're looking for the QUICKEST morning option, make your hard-boiled eggs during your meal-prep day and peel them so they are ready for breakfast ALL. WEEK. LONG.
3. Protein Energy Bites
Have you made protein bites? My kids and husband LOVE them, and my kids love to help make them. We've made peanut butter bites, pumpkin bites and chocolate chip bites. They are one our favorite additions to a healthy breakfast. Check out these great recipes to get you started:
4. Add Some Meat
Sometimes we just add a few turkey sausage links to our breakfast, depending on time. Costco has some of our favorite, natural sausage links that we literally take out of the bag, microwave for a minute or two and DEVOUR. If you have time, you can prepare some low sodium bacon as well. And if you haven't tried this tool to cook your bacon in the microwave, you are missing out -- it's SO easy.
5. On the Go Sandwich ( or Burrito!)
You can make ahead a breakfast sandwich (or make it that morning). Some of my favorites are below -- and they are SO easy and kids LOVE them. We've also been known to make ahead breakfast burritos for the next few weeks. They are SO good, you guys!
6. Protein Pancakes & Waffles
7. Overnight Oats
Have you seen all the options there are for delicious overnight oats? The possibilities are ENDLESS. These are some of my favorite recipes - and I can promise your kids will love these too.
8. Bake It
Here's another option you can make ahead. The nice thing is, these are also great breakfast ideas for when you've got company over, or you're hosting a brunch (which can be laden with empty, sugary carby food). Again, the possibilities of Breakfast Bakes are ENDLESS, but these are my favorite tried & true recipes:
Colors play a huge part in the way you feel while working out. Most of us want our space to be motivating and we want to feel energized. But, there’s also the other end of the spectrum, where someone may want to feel balanced and centered during a meditation or yoga workout. Now, even if you don’t have a designated space for your workout and exercises, you can still accentuate the area you use to create the feeling you want while getting your blood pumping.
So what colors are best? Well it depends on the space and what it will be used for (workout-wise).
The Feeling You’re Going For: You want your space to make you feel ALIVE and get you MOTIVATED. This is the place you’re getting your heart pumping and most likely getting your day started. You want an extra boost of energy from your space to get you excited about your sweat sesh.
Workouts You Enjoy: HIIT Workouts, Running, Cardio, Plyometrics, Free Weights,
Colors that Help:
Red: It can actually physically stimulate you by increasing respiration and heart rate.
Orange: This color is a high-energy color that will energize your space
Yellow: It’s an energetic color that can bring happiness and optimism as well.
Pink: Pink is connected with the feeling of youthfulness and carefree days. It’s the excitement of red, just slightly toned down.
The Feeling You’re Going For: You are looking for a space that inspires you as you create your own dance moves and routines. Your workouts are one of a kind, like you, and you want to spark that creative fire in an instant. Any workout you create on your own or make up yourself is perfect for a creative space.
Workouts You Enjoy: Dance Workouts, Floor Routines, Kickboxing, Free Weights
Colors that Help:
Orange: It not only energizes, but it’s actually a great color for those who like to be known for their creativity and individuality.
Yellow: Yellow can also evoke memory and trigger imagination and can be great for being creative.
Purple: It’s associated with creativity and even a little eccentricity. It also makes someone more comfortable.
CALMING & BALANCING AREAS
The Feeling You’re Going For: You want a space that flows. You want to feel relaxed and calm during your workouts. This is an area you clear your mind and destress in. Even though your muscles are being worked, it’s a much different feeling than a cardio session. You most likely are using this space at the end of the day and using it to wind down after work.
Workouts You Enjoy: Yoga, Mediation, Pilates, Bodyweight Flow Workouts
Colors that Help:
Lavender: It helps with feelings of healing and brings a sense of calm.
Green: The connection between nature and green brings peacefulness and balance to your space.
Blue: Blue actually slows our heartbeat and respiration, giving a calming effect to a room.
HOW TO USE A COMMUNAL SPACE FOR WORKOUTS
I would say the majority of us don’t have specific workout spaces. In the least we are sharing a toy room with our yoga mat or a TV room with our weights. It’s not always feasable to have a specific room of the house devoted to JUST exercise. And if that’s your case, never fear! There are plenty of ways you can change the feeling of a communal space to fit the type of workouts you’re into. All it takes is changing a couple accessories, throw pillows or blankets to really add the color of your choice.
Easy Changes You Make to Add Your “Workout Color”:
BEST WAY TO PAINT A WORKOUT AREA
Ah, the ectomorph body type. Most of us are a little jealous of their thin frame that carries very little extra fat. This body type is often referred to as a "thin frame" as they have small joints and smaller bones. An ectomorph will carry very little fat, but with that they also have little muscle as well. While an ectomorph is usually the envy of onlookers, it comes with it's own set of challenges.
AN ectomorph maintains a thin frame throughout their whole life, and in general have a very difficult time puting on muscle and keeping it on. There is a lot of training involved for an ectomorph to put muscle on their bodies. It requires the right kind of training and the proper nutrition and sleep in order to foster muscle growth.
In general an ectomorph has a smaller appetite and is often full shortly after eating. (Occasionally we see the complete opposite -- which makes most of us jealous!) An ectomorph has a fairly high metabolism, which allows them to eat a gambit of food without seeing weight fluctuations. Again, while this may seem like an advantage, it can also lead to malnutrition and can lead to the infamous "skinny fat" situation.
Ectomorphs can also have an advantage when it comes to muscle building, however, as their bodies have very little fat, they will notice the results of weight training quickly through muscle definition.
DIET FOR THE ECTOMORPH
Someone with the ectomorph body type should focus their diet on carbohydrates and protein. And not just any old carbohydrate. It's best to consume complex carbs like pasta, high fiber grains, rice and dried fruit. These will help with the small appetite of the ectomorph. In fact an ectomorph should aim to make about 50% of their calories from carbohydrates.
The other large part of the ectomorph diet is protein. This will be essential for muscle gain. A diet of about 30% of their calories from protein is ideal. But with a protein rich diet, it's also important for the ectomorph to consume A LOT of water. This will help with digestion and will also aid the muscles repairing themselves after weight focused workouts.
Ectomorphs should also focus on high density foods such as almonds, peanut butter and avocados. Snacks should be nutrient dense foods such as these. An ectomorph should avoid empty calorie foods and avoid fried and junk foods at all costs. These foods will leave an ectomorph full, but won't give their body or muscles proper nutrition.
While most diet plans don't mention fruits or vegetables for the ectomorph, they are still an important part of any healthy diet. Choose fruits and vegetables with more nutrients than water based produce (for example eating spinach as opposed to celery). This will help get the ectomorph proper nutrition while making sure there is still enough room for protein and carbs.
EXERCISE FOR THE ECTOMORPH
The training and exercise for the ectomorph is VERY different from the endomorph or mesomorph. The tough job of puting on muscle plays a HUGE part on the game plan advised for a thin body frame. As mentioned before, even though gaining muscle may be huge task, the ectomorph will be able to see the results due to the low fat content of their bodies.
AN ectomorph will want to focus on HEAVY weight training. However, it is very important not to over-train the ectomorph bodies. To achieve this, it's best to focus on shorter sets of heavy weights with longer rests in between sets. A workout for the ectomorph should be shorter (around 30 minutes). Another thing to keep in mind as an ectomorph is to focus on one muscle group at a time. Avoiding full body weight workouts will ensure an ectomorph isn't over-trained.
Cardio is also important to keep an ectomorph in top-performing shape. That being said, an ectomorph shouldn't focus on steady state cardio like running or cycling. Cardio exercises that are beneficial to the ectomorph are things like swimming, kick-boxing and high intensity interval training. An ectomorph will want to pair these exercises with a lot of muscle work and core training to stay strong.
Just like any body type, there are advantages and disadvantages to the ectomorph. Knowing what's best for your body will help you achieve the goals you've set in your fitness and training routines.
As cold and flue season come upon us, we are all in search of the same thing it seems: HOW CAN I AVOID GETTING SICK!?!?!
Over the years I've tried different things to help my family boost their immune systems and stay as healthy as possible over the winter. It's tough when you send your germ magnet to school to retrieve every virus imaginable. And pair that with a toddler who still puts anything she can find in her mouth......we've got the winning combination.
But there are some less talked about ways to boost your immune system this winter that could potentially keep you free from the worst viruses and bugs. These are the prevention tips that you won't hear on the Today Show, but they are tried and true and they work.
1. Check Your House
2. Make Probiotics Part of Your Diet
Our gut contains good bacteria that helps our bodies fight off bugs and viruses. Probiotics are a great way to keep that good bacteria in high numbers and keep the bad bacteria in check. Many foods have probiotics in them, for one, yogurt is a great source (watch that sugar number though!), as well as Kefir, fermented foods like kimchi and cabbage and kombucha.
Another way to promote the good bacteria in your stomach is by watching your sugar intake. Sugar can wipe that good bacteria away, leaving you susceptible to colds. Toxic tap water and fluoride in tap water are other things that battle your good bacteria and so you may want to take an added Probiotic supplement.
3. Get Outside
Soaking up some sun and some Vitamin D is a great way to boost your immune system. Our skin manufactures vitamin D when exposed to the sunshine, and the vitamin D from the sun helps facilitate normal immune system function.
Researchers have found that Vitamin D activates our immune system "killer cells" or T cells, which fights off serious infections in the body. They found that T-cells rely on vitamin D to activate, and if they are deficient in Vitamin D, they remain dormant and unable to fight for the body.
You can get vitamin D by spending 15-20 minutes out in the sunshine. But sometimes that's tough in the winter, when it might be easier to take a vitamin D supplement.
4. Laugh it Up
5. Practice Mediation
Meditation is a positive practice for so many areas of your life. But did you know that it also helps strengthen your immune system as it creates a positive mental environment? Mindfulness meditation actually increases activity in the parts of the brain (prefrontal cortex, right hippocampus, and right anterior insula) that control positive emotions and anxiety. In addition, these parts of the brain act as a command center for your immune system, which means when they are stimulated, your immune system functions at a higher, more effective level.
Practicing mediation as part of your daily routine will continue to manifest these positive thoughts and improve your immune system on a regular basis. The key to mediation is consistency, even if it's just for a few minutes a day.
If you missed our post on how to meditate, you may find it interesting to see just how easy it is to start a great habit.
6. Manage Stress
When stress hormones surge, your immune system function plummets. Your immune system is easily compromised by the stress hormone, Cortisol and as you get stressed out, so does your immune system.
Researchers have found a link between the mind-body interaction. Psychological stress results in reducing your body's ability to fight infections and viruses. Your immune system is a collection of cells that travel through the bloodstream and and are made up of B cells and T cells. Stress hormones reduce the number of these cells, leaving you open to viruses, and illness.
By simply identifying the source of your stress, you can begin to reduce it or remove it from your life completely. This article on stress and stress reduction is helpful in understanding how to reduce it. Exercise and meditation are also great ways to manage the stress you can't get rid of.
7. Get Your Sweat On
The endomorph body type is categorized by several factors. Generally we refer to this body type as the "apple" or "pear" shape. They are known for having a softer body and while they may be muscular, it's often hidden underneath a layer of fat. They sit at the heavier end of the body-type spectrum. Often times an endomorph body type can be the most difficult body type to train and eat for.
An endomorph has the tendency to store fat quite easily. This means they often times struggle with losing weight because their bodies store the fat so quickly and easily. Usually an endomorph will hold on to that fat in their lower bodies, but they can also hold on to it in the middle section too. Their bodies are generally, overall softer than their counterparts.
An endomorph can have a carb and insulin sensitivity, which can increase the issue of easily storing fat. Their metabolism can be sluggish as well, which makes losing the fat even more of a challenge. They must pay attention carefully to what they eat and have an exercise routine in place in order to shed any fat they have stored.
Endomorphs usually have a larger bone structure, which is great for the heavy weight training that's recommended for their bodies. With proper diet and the right exercise, endomorphs can thrive in their given body type.
DIET FOR THE ENDOMORPH
The diet plan for an endomorph should focus primarily on VEGETABLES. It's important to know what kind of vegetables with this body type. Corn and beans in this case would be considered a carbohydrate. It's important for the endomorph to choose vegetables that are higher in fiber as well.
Endomorphs should stick to a low carb diet. Any carbohydrates consumed should be (1) high in fiber, (2) in the form of vegetables if possible: think yams, beans, corn and peas, and finally (3) free from sugars and fats. Following the Paleo diet guidelines is a great way for an endomorph to practice their eating plan.
Eating fresh, unrefined foods is the best option for the endomorph and avoiding any kind of sugar (that's right even in fruit) is ideal. Endomorphs should be eating around 5-6 smaller meals per day to help with their slower metabolism.
Finally, and endomorph should be taking in natural, lower fat proteins such as chicken, turkey and fish. Their diet should consist of about 35% protein and 35% healthy fats. Healthy fats will be helpful in the weightloss process, but shouldn't be consumed more than vegetables.
EXERCISE FOR THE ENDOMORPH
Exercise for the endomorph is going to focus on cardio and heavy weight lifting. Because the endomorph has such a large bone structure, it is perfect for lifting those heavy weights. It's going to be difficult for an endomorph to stay lean, and so they will want to focus on lifting weights that focus on their larger muscle groups.
Don't be discouraged, endomorphs! You have larger, defined muscles, it's just covered up with fat. Once the fat starts being shed, those muscles and definition will shine on through. For this reason, make sure when you take a rest day, you counter it with an activity such as brisk walks or a type of yoga. Keeping active every day will help improve the metabolism of an endomorph.
Endomorphs can also benefit from a lot of cardio. They will want to choose a combination of high intensity cardio sessions (anything that keeps your heart rate higher for a period of time) and circuit training. When choosing a circuit training routine, it's important to have very little rest in between exercises.
This body type can be a tough one to reign in, but it can be done through dedication to diet and discipline to exercise.
The mesomorph body type is typically an athletic build. Women will often times have an hourglass shape, with wider shoulders and more prominent hips and lower body. The mesomorph sits right in between the ectomorph (normally thin and not as muscular) and the endomorph (big-boned and easily puts on mass). You might be thinking how great having a mesomorph body structure must be, but in actuality it comes with it's own set of challenges.
The mesomorph will have NO problem puting on mass. Unfortunately that means in muscle and in fat. If a mesomorph isn't careful, they can easily become overweight by taking in too many calories from high-fat foods. They typically store fat equally in most areas of their bodies.
The great thing is that as easy as it is for a mesomorph to put on the weight, with hard work and a change in their diet, they can easily take off unwanted weight. Their muscles are a huge benefit as they are thick and powerful and require the use of more calories to maintain.
DIET for the MESOMORPH
The diet of a mesomorph should focus on complex carbs and protein. Protein is incredibly important for a mesomorph to maintain their muscles and fuel their body.
Carbohydrates are a bit trickier with mesomorphs. While it is important to have carbs and it will ultimately fuel your body especially after a workout, it is important to know just what kind of cards to take in. It is recommended that a mesomorph body type eat slower absorbing carbs, such as yams, brown rice and other vegetables. It's also a good idea to mix up their carb choices, rotating between fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Another important factor while consuming carbs is to focus on FIBER rich foods. Things like quinoa, and other whole grains will be a huge benefit.
Mesomorphs should avoid foods that are high in sugar as they can lead to quick weight gain if consumed too often. It is especially important to stay away from carbohydrates that are high in sugar.
You want to make sure you are incorporating a decent amount of healthy fats and oils. Flax seed oil and olive oil are great choices. Avocados and other omega 3's are also extremely beneficial to the mesomorph body type.
The mesomorph will benefit from eating 5-7 small meals a day to keep their metabolism high. By eating a balance of 40% carbs, 30% fat and 30% protein, a mesomorph will be able to reach their body type's full potential.
EXERCISE for the MESOMORPH
Exercise and training will come fairly easy to a mesomorph because of their naturally muscular physique. However it is very important for the mesomorph to incorporate rest and stretching days. A mesomorph can very easily over-train their bodies, leading to problems.
The best strategy for a mesomorph is to incorporate a variety of workouts throughout the week. It's recommended that a mesomorph workout about 5 times a week for about 30-45 minutes. Rotating between High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Workouts and steady state cardio is optimum.
When weight training it's best to use moderate to heavy weights. Limited rest between sets is important to continue to strengthen and train the muscles. Circuit training or a boot-camp style workout is a great way to accomplish this.
Changing up the intensity of a workout will continue to challenge the muscles in a mesomorph body type. This includes incorporating things like yoga or Pilates at least one day a week.
I want to share with you one of my favorite portions of our Healthy Habit Kickstart program. I'm so excited to share this with you and I hope you'll see the value in it and give it a try.
The number one reason people don't utilize the powerful benefits of meditation is because with live in a world where busy is in. We constantly have things in the go. We are always multitasking. We don't beleive in slowing down or quieting our mind for the sake of focus. The busier we are the better. But we are now seeing that this busy lifestyle of being on the go constantly is having a negative affect on our brains and our physical health.
Starting meditation doesn't mean you need to spend even 15 minutes with it. And it certainly doesn't need to take away from your productive times of the day. I recommend finding your least productive time. Maybe it's when you're watching TV, maybe it's 10 minutes of social media time, or maybe it's that time at the end of the night when you're perusing Pinterest. All you need to do is start with a clear head and spend three minutes in meditation.
I know when I first heard the recommendation to meditate it sounded like this foreign, unattainable task to me. I didn't think I could focus and not be productive for that long. But meditating actually has the opposite affect on our bodies and brains. It will cause you to have a better day, better night's sleep and actually increase your productivity.
BENEFITS OF LIMITING SOCIAL MEDIA & TELEVISION
By cutting back on TV and social media you will greatly increase the quality of your life. There are many more ways than this small list we compiled, but it's a great start:
Spring is right around the corner! It's a time to embrace bright sunny colors and gear up your body for some summer sun. Spring is my favorite time to amp up my workouts. I don't know if it's the added sunlight or the fact that I can finally workout outdoors, but I love to kick it into high gear. And to be honest, new workout clothes really do make working out a bit more fun. I love this ensemble as it is modest and you can even wear it when you're out and about during the day too.
GET THE LOOK
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